This last Christmas I was walking around my church at a women’s thing when I happened upon a friend who I had not seen in a while. I stopped her to say hello and tell her that I was moving to Canada. She was with an older woman, a senior, someone I had heard of in her life but had never met. “Oh, Canada! That’s odd.” “Yes, it sure is.” Then the senior woman spoke, my friend calls her, ‘Grandma’. “My husband went to school in Canada and he sure has some stories about the weather there.” I shivered a little inside, said an “oh, man!” in my head and then to be courteous asked, “Where in Canada?” She didn’t expect me to have heard of it when she answered, “Three Hills.” And then this very interesting story unfolded.
This woman’s husband’s parents were missionaries in Africa. As was customary in that day, the kids were not kept with the families but sent to boarding school…and Prairie Christian Academy was a popular place for that. So, as a young boy, he was left on an entirely different continent, with an older brother at the same school for the year. She said that things got tougher the second year as he had to return alone because that older brother died in an accident the summer between. Then she said with a sweet smile that she had not seen too much in life that her husband couldn’t handle as a result of that upbringing. This woman met him in college and they went on to serve in Africa as well for 30 some years. Their kids went to boarding school also but on the continent, in Kenya at a school that I have also visited. I wanted to take this woman, sit her down and say, ‘tell me more.’ I wanted to know her more…I still do.
Today I took Samara and dropped her off at the same school for a kindergarten preview day. There is only one class with around twenty kids. Because of budgets and busses they do things a bit differently…all-day just two days a week. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about all-day but now I have come around to thinking that maybe that’s better than a little every day. I guess I just felt like she still should be mine most of the time…and going just two days makes me feel like she is. But let’s be honest, she’s my oldest child and I had a hard time dropping her off for the all-day today. And all of a sudden I was my mother standing there with tears in my eyes while my little girl couldn’t wait to get inside and see what it was all about. This girl does not hang on to apron strings…
The building that housed those kids a long time ago is now a gas station right on the corner where I have to turn to go down the road to where we are staying. I find myself thinking about that mother…and that boy all the time. How did that mother do it? How did she leave her young kids at a school while she boarded a ship, not even a plane for a faraway place? I feel my struggle in leaving my child with someone for a few hours while I’m around the corner as I contemplate the fortitude of that woman and her faith. I don’t know if I would ever make the same decisions as her but can stand in no judgement because what I do know is that what came out of her letting go was a resilient man who followed in her footsteps.
As we walked to the car after the day was over, she looked at me and said, “Mom, that was so fun!”